December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Cuba

Cuba April 20, 2011

H.E. Raúl Castro
President
Office of the President
Consejo de Estado
Plaza de la Revolución
Habana
Republic of Cuba
Fax: (011.537) 81.22.71

Your Excellency:

The release of Pedro Argüelles Morán earlier this month has to be welcomed as the end of an appalling ordeal for all the journalists arrested in March, 2003, and summarily tried and sentenced for practicing the kind of journalism protected by law in democracies.

However, it is evident that the release of the journalists and human rights workers does not mean that those who remain active in Cuba will enjoy even a scrap more freedom, even if the means of repressing them are less brutal.

To quote the findings of the Inter-American Press Association at its meeting earlier this month:
“The situation of the press over the past six months reflects the same precariousness and hopelessness of the Cuba society itself: government media used as propaganda tools, iron-hand censorship, and disinformation; repressive actions again independent media which mix pressure, beatings, threats, and harassment by mobs, and operations by intelligence agencies to blocks and silence dissident voices.”

According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Cuban authorities arrested 117 people in January and 390 in February.  Most of these were released within a few hours. That seems to be part of a new pattern: to harass independent journalists and human rights advocates with frequent arrests, interrogations and confinement to their houses.  A dissident journalist, Guillermo Fariňas, who won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in December, was not permitted to leave Cuba to accept his prize and since then has been arrested several times.  A Spanish journalist, Carlos Hernando, who made a documentary about Fariňas, was expelled.

In spite of constant repression, about 100 independent journalists carry on their work in Cuba and their number is reportedly growing.  As events in the Middle East have shown, the Internet spreads the news in spite of government efforts to stop it.

Your excellency, in your speeches you have talked about the need for change in Cuba.  The release of the journalists who were arrested in March, 2003, is a change for the good.  But there is still a long way to go.  The Overseas Press Club of America, which defends freedom of the press around the world, urges you to consider allowing the free flow of information in Cuba to bring your country into the company of almost all American republics.

Respectfully yours,
Jeremy Main
Kevin McDermott
Co-Chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

Ambassador Pedro Nuňez Mosquera
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba
to the United Nations
315 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY  10016
Fax: (212) 689.9073

Mr. Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera
Cuban Interests Section
c/o Embassy of Switzerland
2630 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC   20009
Fax: (202) 986.7283

Mr. Jonathan D. Farrar
U.S. Interests Section
c/o Embassy of Switzerland
Calzada between L and M Streets
Vedado Seccion
Havana
Cuba
Fax: (011.537) 33.37.00

Hon. Navi Pillay
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211  Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: (011.41.22) 917.9022

Maria Otero
Under Secretary of State for Democracy & Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC  20520

Yoani.sanchez@gmail.com

octavo.cerco@gmail.com